New World Wines: Tasting Man O’War From New Zealand

Apparently Waiheke is one of the hotspots in the New York Times 2013 travel section. Too bad, I thought it was a secret. Kidding aside, I wish I had pictures of this splendid island from a trip there but alas that is not the case. What I do have are nice impressions of the wines that I have tasted from the Man O’War winery.

I was introduced to Man O’War when I worked for a time at Maslow 6 in Tribeca. It seemed to me that wines flew off the shelves.

Apparently Captain James Cook first discovered the island in the 1700s but the Spencer family has been credited with creating the wine industry there, starting in 1963. Today they have 150 acres of vines, separated into unique areas. Each area has a particular micro-climate and soil to it and the family plants grape vines appropriate to each terroir.

I have been lucky enough to meet their lovely wine rep and taste some of their lineup including the Graystone – a blend of Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc, the Valhalla Chardonnay and the Dreadnought Syrah. All three surprised me and helped me to get over what I thought were ingrained prejudices. I have tasted wines from both their Man O’War range and the Flagship range.

All three were very interesting both in terms of their aromas and flavors as well as the wine-choices. The semillion in the Graystone ferments in old oak with cultured yeast while the Sauvigon ferments in tank with wild yeast. The two are then blended producing a rich wine with exotic fruit characteristics.

The Valhalla Chardonnay was made with whole bunch pressing and wild yeast fermentation and is very full and layered in terms of its taste profile with a velvety buttery, creamy mouthfeel.

The Dreadnought Syrah was a nice expression of Syrah, more muted than I might have imagined.

These wines surprised me and made me want to get to know the area more intimately. In addition to the great wines, the setting cannot be beat.

The wines are brought in by VOS Selections and are not only interesting but nicely priced.

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